In his argument for the possibility of knowledge of spatial objects, in the Transcendental Deduction of the B-version of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant makes a crucial distinction between space as “form of intuition” and space as “formal intuition.” The traditional interpretation regards the distinction between the two notions as reflecting a distinction between indeterminate space and determinations of space by the understanding, respectively. By contrast, a recent influential reading has argued that the two notions can be fused into (...) one and that space as such is first generated by the understanding through an act of synthesis of the imagination. Against this reading, this article argues that a key characteristic of space as a form of intuition is its nonconceptual unity, which defines the properties of space and is as such necessarily independent of determination by the understanding through the transcendental synthesis of the imagination. The conceptual unity that the understanding prescribes to the manifold in intuition, by means of the categories, defines the formal intuition. Furthermore, this article argues that it is the sui generis, nonconceptual unity of space, when takenas a unity for the understanding by means of conceptual determination, that first enables geometric knowledge and knowledge of spatially located particulars. (shrink)
In focusing on the systematic deduction of the categories from a principle, Schulting takes up anew the controversial project of the eminent German Kant scholar Klaus Reich, whose monograph “The Completeness of Kant's Table of Judgments” made the case that the logical functions of judgement can all be derived from the objective unity of apperception and can be shown to link up with one another systematically. -/- Common opinion among Kantians today has it that Kant did not mean to derive (...) the functions of judgement, and accordingly the categories, from the principle of apperception. Schulting challenges this standard view and aims to resuscitate the main motivation behind Reich’s project. He argues, in agreement with Reich’s main thesis about the derivability of the functions of judgement, that Kant indeed does mean to derive, in full a priori fashion, the categories from the principle of apperception. -/- Schulting also shows that, given the general assumptions of the Critical philosophy, Kant's derivation is successful and that absent an account of the derivation of the categories from apperception, the B-Deduction cannot really be understood. -/- New edition. First published 2012 as „Kant’s Deduction and Apperception. Explaining the Categories" (Palgrave Macmillan). (shrink)
blurb from publisher: "In Apperception and Self-Consciousness in Kant and German Idealism, Dennis Schulting examines the themes of reflexivity, self-consciousness, representation and apperception in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and German Idealism more widely. Central to Schulting’s argument is the claim that all of human experience is inherently self-referential and that this is part of a self-reflexivity of thought, or what is called transcendental apperception, a Kantian insight that was first apparent in the work of Christian Wolff and came to (...) inform all of German Idealism. In a rigorous text suitable for students of German philosophy and upper-level students of metaphysics, epistemology, moral and political philosophy, and aesthetics courses, the author establishes the historical roots of Kant’s thought and traces it through to his immediate successors Karl Leonhard Reinhold, Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. He specifically examines the cognitive role of self-consciousness and its relation to idealism and places it in a clear and coherent history of rationalist philosophy." . (shrink)
Dennis Schulting offers a thoroughgoing, analytic account of the first half of the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories in the B-edition of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason that is different from existing interpretations in at least one important aspect: its central claim is that each of the 12 categories is wholly derivable from the principle of apperception, which goes against the current view that the Deduction is not a proof in a strict philosophical sense and the standard reading that in (...) the Deduction Kant only gives an account of the global applicability of the categories to experience. This novel approach enables a reappraisal of Kant's controversial claim that transcendental self-consciousness is not only a necessary condition of objective experience but also sufficient for it. The book provides an extensive analysis of Kant's theory of transcendental apperception and also explains why the argument of the Transcendental Deduction is both a regressive and a progressive argument. (shrink)
:Recently, Allais, Hanna and others have argued that Kant is a nonconceptualist about intuition and that intuitions refer objectively, independently of the functions of the understanding. Kantian conceptualists have responded, which the nonconceptualists also cite as textual evidence for their reading) that this view conflicts with the central goal of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction: to argue that all intuitions are subject to the categories. I argue that the conceptualist reading of KrV, A 89 ff./B 122 ff. is unfounded. Further, I argue (...) that the nonconceptualists are wrong to believe that intuitions as such refer objectively and that they are mistaken about the relation between figurative synthesis and intellectual synthesis. (shrink)
This book offers an array of important perspectives on Kant and nonconceptualism from some of the leading scholars in current Kant studies. As well as discussing the various arguments surrounding Kantian nonconceptualism, the book provides broad insight into the theory of perception, philosophy of mind, philosophy of mathematics, epistemology, and aesthetics. His idealism aside, Kantian nonconceptualism is the most topical contemporary issue in Kant’s theoretical philosophy. In this collection of specially commissioned essays, major players in the current debate, including Robert (...) Hanna and Lucy Allais, engage with each other and with the broader literature in the field addressing all the important aspects of Kantian nonconceptualism. Among other topics, the authors analyse the notion of intuition and the conditions of its generation, Kant’s theory of space, including his pre-Critical view of space, the relation between nonconceptualism and the Transcendental Deduction, and various challenges to both conceptualist and nonconceptualist interpretations of Kant. Two further chapters explore a prominent Hegelian conceptualist reading of Kant and Kant’s nonconceptualist position in the Third Critique. The volume also contains a helpful survey of the recent literature on Kant and nonconceptual content. Kantian Nonconceptualism provides a comprehensive overview of recent perspectives on Kant and nonconceptual content, and will be a key resource for Kant scholars and philosophers interested in the topic of nonconceptualism. (shrink)
Talk at University of Turin, 'Kant, oltre Kant, May 5th 2023. --- -/- It is useful, while keeping in mind a holistic approach, to concentrate on a common theme in Kant’s text, which it will turn out is the quintessential element of his novel ‘way of thinking’, as he himself put it in preface of the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason. This common theme is the idea of synthesis, which is what holds together, and is the entryway (...) to, all the other familiar aspects of Kant’s thought: his concept of self-consciousness or how mind is involved in cognition, his ideas about the role of the imagination, his theory of knowledge and his metaphysics of experience, and not unimportantly, its relation to what is probably the most Kantian element here: the categories of the understanding as the first principles of knowledge. But the meaning of synthesis and its role in its various facets, though frequently the subject of discussion in papers and monographs alike, is hardly understood in contemporary Kant scholarship. Most readings of the text of the Deduction, the part in which Kant elucidates his concept of synthesis, exhibit a shallow, mechanical understanding of it. -/- A compounding factor is that synthesis can’t really be understood independently of the other aforementioned elements of Kant’s thought. Grasping the meaning of synthesis implies coming to grips with his concept of self-consciousness and the way both self-consciousness and the categories are intricately and intimately involved. Most interpretations consider these aspects too much as if they were indeed separable faculties or entities that serve separable functions, undercutting an important feature of Kant’s metaphysics: the possibility of a priori unified cognition, for which an indivisible self-legislating subject is responsible. Rather, they are expressions of various aspects of a singular function of the mind as the ground of possible unified knowledge. -/- One striking example of such a superficial reading of the text is the way the relation between figurative synthesis and intellectual synthesis—or in the case of the A-Deduction the threefold synthesis—is standardly interpreted, as if the two are independent or quasi-independent functions of different faculties of the mind, the imagination and the understanding. In this paper, I focus on the relation between figurative and intellectual synthesis, while arguing that failing to understand this properly, indeed the relation between the imagination and the understanding, leads to a vicious regress in the explanation of the ground of knowledge, for which a priori synthesis is specifically designed. In other words, failing to see the intimate relation between the imagination and the understanding, the very identity that lies at their root, risks losing sight of the primary aim of Kant’s thought: the possibility of a priori unified knowledge. (shrink)
A Critical Notice on Omri Boehm's "Radikaler Universalismus. Jenseits von Identität" (Propyläen/Ullstein 2022). This article is private. If you're not a subscriber to kritik dot substack dot com, you will need to subscribe in order to be able to read it.
The book addresses two main areas of Kant’s theoretical philosophy: the doctrine of transcendental idealism and various central aspects of the arguments from the Metaphysical and Transcendental Deductions, as well as the relation between the deduction argument and idealism. -/- Among the topics covered are the nature of objective validity, the role and function of transcendental logic in relation to general or formal logic, the possibility of contradictory thoughts, the meaning of the Leitfaden at A79 and the unity of cognition, (...) the two-steps-in-one-proof interpretation and categorial instantiation, categorial illusion, Strawson’s transcendental argument, the persistently perplexing question of the derivation of the categories, and the relation between apperception, objectivity, judgement, and idealism. -/- With regard to idealism in particular, the focus is on the metaphysical two-aspect interpretation and its problems, on the merits and demerits of the controversial phenomenalist reading of Kant’s idealism, and on the topic of subjectivism and epistemic humility. -/- In all of the aforementioned topics, the book presents wholly novel interpretations compared to the standard or mainstream interpretations. (shrink)
One of the most irritating habits of analytic philosophers when they show a passing interest in the work of philosophers from the past is the professed ignorance of textual and philological detail. This used to be worse than it is in current analytical philosophy. Many detailed scholarly readings that roughly can be categorised as belonging to the analytic school of philosophy are published now that show great care for exegesis and philosophical argument in equal measure. But wilful exegetical ignorance of (...) historical philosophical texts is still ubiquitous among philosophers who technically don’t work in the history of philosophy. It’s often seen as a badge of honour to be merely interested in the philosophical argument that can be based on Kant, say, rather than in an exegesis of Kant’s text. This is often also portrayed in terms of the difference between offering Kantian style arguments and engaging in Kant scholarship. Kantianism is not the same as Kant scholarship, it is argued, and the former can be wholly detached from the latter, as if one could indeed judge what is Kantian without having studied Kant. One can of course legitimately pursue Kantian philosophy without at the same time engaging in Kant scholarship, but Kantian philosophy worthy of the name cannot not be informed by solid scholarship. ... (shrink)
In this chapter, I show that there is at least one crucial, non-short, argument, which does not involve arguments about spatiotemporality, why Kant’s subjectivism about the possibility of knowledge, argued in the Transcendental Deduction, must lead to idealism. This has to do with the fact that given the implications of the discursivity thesis, namely, that the domain of possible determination of objects is characterised by limitation, judgements of experience can never reach the completely determined individual, i.e. the thing in itself (...) or the unlimited real, but only objects as objects of possible experience. As such, it can be shown by reference to a key argument from Kant, that Hegel’s famous criticism that Kant is not licensed, on the basis of his core arguments concerning the original-synthetic unity of apperception, to restrict our knowledge to appearances, is mistaken on purely systematic grounds. More specifically, I argue that idealism follows already from the constraints that the use of the categories, in particular the categories of quality, places on the very conceivability of things in themselves. My claim is that, although it is not only possible but also necessary to think things in themselves, it does not follow that by merely thinking them we have a full grasp of the nature of things in themselves, as some important commentators claim we have. We must therefore distinguish between two kinds of conceiving of things in themselves: conceiving in the standard sense of ‘forming the notion of’, and conceiving in the narrow sense of ‘having a determinate intellectual grasp’. So although we must be able notionally to think things in themselves, as the grounds of their appearances, we cannot even conceive, through pure concepts, of how they are in themselves in any determinate, even if merely intellectual, sense. To put it differently, we cannot have a positive conception of things in themselves (this is in line with Kant’s distinction between noumena in the negative and positive senses; cf. B307–9). For support, I resort to a much overlooked chapter in the Critique, concerning the transcendental Ideal, where Kant discusses what it is for a thing to be a thing in itself proper, namely, something that is thoroughly determined. This concerns the real ontological conditions of things, which are not satisfied by the modal categories alone, namely, their existence conditions. I claim that the chief reason why, given Kant’s view of determinative judgement, we cannot determine a thing in itself is because of two connected reasons: (1) a thing in itself is already fully determined and therefore not further determinable and (2) we cannot possibly determine all of the thing’s possible determinations. In this context, I also discuss the notion of material (not: empirical) synthesis—of which Kant speaks in the chapter on the transcendental Ideal—which must be presupposed as the ground of the formal a priori synthesis that grounds possible experience. This material synthesis, which is an idea of reason that defines a thing as thoroughly determined with regard to all of its possible predicates and has mere regulative status, can by implication not be determined by the forms of the understanding, which synthesise only a limited set of predicates. As a result, given this definition of ‘thing in itself’, any object (appearance) as at best44 a limited set of determinations of the thing can never be numerically identical to the thing in itself as thoroughly determined individual. This undercuts a standard assumption about the identity relation between appearances and things in themselves in many contemporary interpretations of Kant’s transcendental idealism. (shrink)
This key collection of essays sheds new light on long-debated controversies surrounding Kant’s doctrine of idealism and is the first book in the English language that is exclusively dedicated to the subject. Well-known Kantians Karl Ameriks and Manfred Baum present their considered views on this most topical aspect of Kant's thought. Several essays by acclaimed Kant scholars broach a vastly neglected problem in discussions of Kant's idealism, namely the relation between his conception of logic and idealism: The standard view that (...) Kant's logic and idealism are wholly separable comes under scrutiny in these essays. A further set of articles addresses multiple facets of the notorious notion of the thing in itself, which continues to hold the attention of Kant scholars. The volume also contains an extensive discussion of the often overlooked chapter in the Critique of Pure Reason on the Transcendental Ideal. Together, the essays provide a whole new outlook on Kantian idealism. No one with a serious interest in Kant's idealism can afford to ignore this important book. (shrink)
In this paper, I want to zero in on the Kantian idea that,whilst things in themselves must logically be presupposed as the ground underlying appearances and things are not reducible to their representations, (1) objects as appearances are not properties of things in themselves, and (2) things in themselves or the thing in itself cannot properly be represented or even thought. To do this, I turn to one of the earliest defenders and champions of the Kantian philosophy, Karl Leonhard Reinhold, (...) and specifically to his first major work Versuch einer neuen Theorie des menschlichen Vorstellungsvermögens, published in 1789. I am here interested neither in the extent to which Reinhold’s interpretation of Kant is correct or even adequately represents Kant’s thought in all of its aspects, nor whether Reinhold’s attempt to present a systematic philosophy based on a rigorous deduction from a single principle (his strong foundationalism) stands up to scrutiny. I am here solely interested in some of Reinhold’s positive insights, in the Versuch, concerning elements of his representationalism that may shed light on Kant’s idealism, specifically, the relation between appearances (as objects of knowledge) and things in themselves, i. e., points (1) and (2) described above. I read the early Reinhold of the Versuch as confirming the Kantian view that objects as appearances are not properties of things in themselves and that we are radically ignorant of things in themselves, in the sense that we can neither know things in themselves (through the senses) nor even intellectually grasp things in themselves through the understanding alone. (shrink)
In this article, I respond to critiques of my book Kant’s Radical Subjectivism: Perspectives on the Transcendental Deduction (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). I address issues that are raised concerning objectivity, the nature of the object, the role of transcendental apperception and the imagination, and idealism. More in particular I respond to an objection against my reading of the necessary existence of things in themselves and their relation to appearances. I also briefly respond to a question that relates to the debate (...) on Kantian nonconceptualism, more in particular, the question whether Kant allows animals objective intentionality. Lastly, I respond to one objection against my reading of Hegel’s critique of Kant. (The copy uploaded here is an English translation of the original Dutch version that is published in the journal.). (shrink)
In this chapter I advance a moderately conceptualist interpretation of Kant’s account of the threefold synthesis in the A-Deduction. Often the first version of TD, the A-Deduction, is thought to be less conceptualist than the later B-version from 1787 (e.g. Heidegger 1991, 1995). Certainly, it seems that in the B-Deduction Kant puts more emphasis on the role of the understanding in determining the manifold of representations in intuition than he does in the A-Deduction. It also appears that in the A-Deduction (...) the seemingly pre-conceptual aspects of a priori synthesis, namely those of the synthesis of apprehension and the imagination, are more prominently featured than in the B-Deduction. And the fact that in the A-Deduction judgement does not appear to play any significant role reinforces the view that the A-Deduction is less strongly conceptualist. I believe that Kant is a conceptualist also in the A-Deduction (as much as in the B-Deduction) in the sense that all syntheses, which are expounded in the second section of the A-Deduction, must be seen as involving the categories or the understanding as the seat of the categories. However, despite some apparent strong modal claims regarding apperception in the A-Deduction, I argue that Kant is a moderate conceptualist in the sense that he allows for the real possibility that some representations are apprehended that are not subsumed or subsumable under the categories, or determined or determinable by the understanding as the seat of the categories. Not all representations must be synthesised and hence be conceptualised (by means of the categories), nor are all representations necessarily conceptualisable (by means of the categories). Often it is argued that the application of the categories must be seen as separate from or prior to conceptualisation (that is, employment of concepts in a judgement), so that the categories must be considered to apply to representations at least to the extent that the productive imagination or recognitive synthesis is involved, even if no empirical concepts are applied in an actual judgement. But it is difficult to see how categories can apply outside the context of an actual judgement in which ipso facto empirical concepts are employed, because, after all, categories are nothing but logical functions of judgement (e.g. B143). More in particular, I shall argue for the claims that (1) appearances to the contrary, all three levels of syntheses in the A-Deduction, including the synthesis of recognition, are interdependent and are not to be seen as operating singly or independently of each other, and hence of the categories; (2) ‘mere’ apprehension, or ‘mere’ intuition, is not dependent on the understanding and the application or possible application of the categories; and that (3) ‘mere’ apprehension does not even invoke a priori synthesis of apprehension and hence is as such fully lawless in terms of Kantian a priori laws. In this context, I also address Kant’s argument in the A-Deduction about the role of the imagination in the production of spatial objects and explain his apt use of the example of cinnabar to show that the kind of association that is at issue here concerns the possibility of knowledge, not the possibility of mere association, as is often assumed. (shrink)
I wrote earlier on the difference between the Pippinian and Houlgatian interpretations of Hegel’s Logic. In the current piece, I want to elaborate a bit more on Stephen Houlgate’s take on what he calls ‘sheer being’. It will still be extremely exploratory, without delving into the detail of Hegel’s own text, let alone into the secondary literature on the beginning of the Logic (apart from Houlgate, important work in this area is offered by Robert Pippin, Dieter Henrich, Rolf-Peter Horstmann, and (...) more recently Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer in his massive 3-volume commentary on the Logic). The piece is chiefly critical of a particular, sophisticated and influential reading of the Logic, and doesn’t make propositions on how a positive reading of the Logic might look like. These are just some more critical reflections on what I take to be an ultimately unsuccessful way of approaching Hegel’s Logic, one though that seems very influential and intuitively plausible. I am increasingly suspicious of their attempts to defend ontological readings of Hegel’s Being Logic, such as we can find in the work of Houlgate (but also many others). Below I shall comment in turn on various passages I quote from a recent essay by Houlgate (Houlgate 2018) and elaborate on some of the central arguments. (shrink)
What is the Quid Juris in Kant's Deduction? Chapter 3 from my book on the Deduction (Kant's Deduction From Apperception) provides an answer to that question, and also contains an extensive discussion of the relevant literature on this topic (Henrich, Proops, Seeberg & Longuenesse).
talk Oslo-Kant congress. In this paper, I explain why for Kant self-consciousness is intimately related to objectivity, how this intimacy translates to real objects, what it means to make judgements about objects, and what idealism has got to do with all of this.
In this paper, I explain why for Kant self-consciousness is intimately related to objectivity, how this intimacy translates to real objects, what it means to make judgements about objects, and what idealism has got to do with all of this.
In this chapter, I expound Hegel’s critique of Kant, which he first and most elaborately presented in his early essay Faith and Knowledge (1802), by focusing on the criticism that Hegel levelled against Kant’s (supposedly) arbitrary subjectivism about the categories. This relates to the restriction thesis of Kant’s transcendental idealism: categorially governed empirical knowledge only applies to appearances, not to things in themselves, and so does not reach objective reality, according to Hegel. Hegel claims that this restriction of knowledge to (...) appearances is unwarranted merely on the basis of Kant’s own principle of transcendental apperception, and just stems from Kant’s empiricist bias. He argues that Kant’s principle of apperception as the foundational principle of knowledge is in fact incompatible with his empiricism. Hegel rightly appraises the centrality of transcendental apperception for the constitution of objectivity. But he is wrong about its incompatibility with Kant’s empirical realism. By virtue of a misapprehension of the formal distinction between the accompanying ‘I think’, i.e. the analytical principle of apperception, and what Hegel calls “the true ‘I’” of the original-synthetic unity of apperception, Hegel unjustifiably prises apart the productive imagination, which is supposedly this “true ‘I’”, and the understanding, which is supposedly just a derivative, subjective form of the productive imagination; the latter, according to Hegel, is Reason or Being itself, and is the truly objective. This deflationary reading of the understanding, which hypostatises the imagination as the supreme principle, rests on a distortion of key elements of Kant’s theory of apperception. In this chapter, I show that Hegel’s charge of inconsistency against Kant, namely, Hegel’s claim that the principle of apperception as the highest principle of cognition does not comport with Kant’s restriction thesis, is the direct consequence of a psychological misreading of Kant’s subjectivism. (shrink)
I review Robert Pippin's "Hegel's Realm of Shadows" (University of Chicago Press 2018) for the Hegel Bulletin. A draft can be read on my website (see link below). Or download below. See also the appendix (philpapers link below).
In the context of a critique of James Conant’s (2016) important new reading of the main argument of the Deduction, I present my current, most detailed interpretation of the well-known Leitfaden passage at A79, which in my view has been misinterpreted by a host of prominent readers. The Leitfaden passage is crucial to understanding the argument of, not just the so-called Metaphysical Deduction, but also the Transcendental Deduction. This new account expands and improves upon the account of the Leitfaden I (...) gave in Chap. 5 of Kant’s Deduction From Apperception. While I agree with the core of Conant’s critique of what he calls the ‘layer-cake’ reading of the Deduction argument, in this new account I make clearer my position on why the unity of judgement, in which concepts and intuitions are a priori synthetically unified, is wholly determined in virtue of the unity of apperception as the unitary function of the understanding, without this leading to a strong form of conceptualism such as that of Conant and others. (shrink)
the essay examines why Kant was conflicted about vaccination, on why vaccination can still be seen as a moral duty and on why a vaccination mandate is not (necessarily) consistent with our rightful, external freedom. It is an essay, not a scholarly paper.